History of Indigenous Peoples

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apprenticeship program

Shanley Allen (allen@mpi.nl)
Tue, 10 Jan 1995 16:05:46 PST

Someone on this list in the couple of months before Christmas (sorry, I
inadvertently deleted the message) wrote about a program they were involved
in whereby native speakers of a certain aboriginal language became "linguist
apprentices" in the course of their working as consultants with linguists.
That person may be interested to know of a similar program involving an
ethnobotanist in the Amazon rainforest, in which Amazonian Indians first
helped the botanist in his field work, then studied, learned, and taught to
others a prepared form of the botanist's field notes in order to inject the
knowledge attained about plant uses back into the Indian culture since such
knowledge was rapidly disappearing with the "westernization" occuring in the
Amazon. This program is described for lay readers in a very readable and
entertaining book by Mark J. Plotkin entitled "Tales of a Shaman's
Apprentice: An ethnobotanist searches for new medicines in the Amazon Rain
Forest" (Viking Penguin, 1993). Hope this is helpful.

Shanley Allen
allen@mpi.nl
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

[ I heard an interesting interview with the author of the book mentioned
above - I think it was on the National Public Radio "Fresh Air" program,
produced by Terry Gross out of public station WHYY in Philadelphia a few
months ago. I know that tapes of these programs are available for about
US$10-12. If anyone is interested, I can probably find more details on
how to order a tape of the interview. --Gary (gst@gnosys.svle.ma.us) ]

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